John Wetton Asia
John Wetton, lead singer of Asia, has passed away aged 67. Wiki Commons

John Wetton, the lead singer of prog-rock supergroup Asia, died on 31 January. He was 67. He had been battling cancer and sepsis for a number of months.

Wetton enjoyed a stellar career in the 1970s and 1980s, performing with a number of high-profile bands, but was best known to the public for his work with Asia. Their eponymous debut album spent nine weeks at No 1 on the US album chart and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Friends and fans alike queued up on Twitter to pay tribute to Wetton, who was born in Derbyshire in 1949.

Producer Jakko Jakszyk said :"Truly and genuinely saddened by the news that John Wetton has passed. I was honoured to call him a pal. Love to you JW."

Mike Stobie said: I am so saddened and gutted to hear my good friend John Wetton passed away today. Such a sweet man with the most beautiful voice. R.I.P. xxx

His first big break came in 1972 with King Crimson, who created a distinct fusion of rock, jazz and classical music. In years to come bands ranging from Iron Maiden to Nirvana would cite King Crimson as a key influence.

Wetton left the group in the mid-70s and worked with a number of headline acts including Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash.

In 1981 he joined forces with members of Yes, The Buggles and Emerson, Lake & Palmer to create Asia. It was a collaboration that was to earn Wetton commercial success on a scale he had not previously encountered.

Wetton was the principal songwriter for the band and played bass, in addition to providing lead vocals. Their self-titled debut topped charts around the world and was the biggest selling LP in the US throughout 1982, ahead of released by Paul McCartney and AC/DC.

Singles Only Time Will Tell and Heat of the Moment received heavy rotations on then-nascent music television and both became chart hits.

After disappointing follow-ups Alpha and Arcadia, Wetton left the band and spent the 1990s pursuing a solo career and collaborating with a host of other artists.

In 2006 the original line-up of Asia reformed with a new album and major tour. The band continued to produce new music and tour throughout the US and further afield until 2014, when they called a hiatus in the wake of Wetton being diagnosed with cancer.

Asia had scheduled a US tour for March through April this year with Wetton, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time, due to be replaced by Billy Sherwood of Yes. It is unclear whether the tour will still go ahead.